The military and police has started a joint investigation on the death of Private First Class Rodilo Bartolome, a soldier who was gunned down by cops in Zamboanga Del Sur, Wednesday night.
Bartolome was reported to the police as suspicious due to his overgrown mustache. He was shot dead by two responding policemen when he reportedly attacked them.
Bartolome, who was recently deployed to fight the Maute group in Marawi, was a member of the 53rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army.
Before the incident, he was given an overnight pass to visit his family in Midsalip, Zamboanga Del Sur, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla.
"While we are in mourning for the death of one of our Marawi heroes, we call for prayers and sobriety as we seek for an immediate solution to this case," the Western Mindanao Command said in a statement read by Padilla.
"We would like to solicit everyone's understanding, if we cannot divulge more information at the moment since this is a sensitive matter still under investigation and we wish to give due consideration to the family's privacy. The entire Western Mindanao Command grieves with the family of PFC Bartolome and will extend maximum assistance to his widow and his children."
Padilla said the joint investigation will probe whether the police involved were guilty of procedural lapses in Bartolome's killing. Initial reports rule out the possibility that the slain soldier was suffering from combat related stress, based on testimonies of his colleagues.
"Bagamat mataas ang emosyon ng ibang kasamahan, pati yung ibang kasamahan sa Armed Forces dahil sa nangyaring ito, ang Armed Forces ay isang professional organization. Kontrolado natin ang ating mga tauhan," Padilla said.
"At ang mga pangako lang natin ay maibigay ang tamang proseso para maimbestigahan ng maayos ito, at ganun din ang ineexpect natin mula sa mga kasamahan nating pulis," he added.
The killing of Bartolome has increased public criticism to the Philippine National Police, which is already under fire following the death of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos last week.